Dieting vs. Lifestyle


Research has shown, time and again, that diets do not work. Many women struggle to find health and aesthetic stability through dieting, only to find that they either gain the weight right back, sometimes exceeding their original weight, or they struggle in maintaining their size because it was attained in an unnatural way. Diets aren’t sustainable. They require you to oust entire food groups, ban certain foods from your plate, take unhealthy, unregulated diet supplements and follow intricate, logic-lacking rules to magically make the pounds disappear.


Newsflash – (not) – there is no such thing as a magic pill. Our culture is so concentrated on instant gratification and perfectionism that we seek out the easiest, fastest method to success. In regards to losing weight, this often equates to unhealthy and even downright dangerous means. The way to sustain a healthy body is to acclimate your body, mind and spirit to a healthier, more balanced way of living.


Take a moment to consider how you came to judge which foods are healthy and which are not. How much of your understanding and belief system around issues of diet, nutrition and weight were derived from a medical professional or nutritionist? Conversely, how much of what you know about these issues has been fed to you through media and advertising? It can be quite fascinating to find out what foods a person believes will ‘make them fat.’ Sometimes their answer reveals generational information (i.e. they were young and impressionable when a specific diet trend was popular) or it uncovers evidence of a time when they felt the most vulnerable to the diet industry’s schemes.


Every few years, the diet industry comes out with a blockbuster of a diet that gets everyone riled up and desperate. The ones that get the most attention and make the most money are usually the fad diets – unsustainable, hokey pokey, extremist ways of nourishing oneself (or lack thereof). Some people are hyper-alert about carbohydrates, while others are more concerned with calories or sugar content.

I grew up in a household where every food was either fat free or ‘light,’ believing that counting a food’s fat content was the most crucial thing to consider. It stuck with me.

For years, I wore diet industry-colored lenses. I built my entire eating regimen around eating fat free, low fat and processed, diet-approved foods. Many of these foods contained chemicals, preservatives and other unappetizing additives to supplement what tastier ingredients (fat, sugar, etc) had been taken out. I felt deprived. I felt an uncontrollable yearning for foods I banned from my diet, only causing me more stress and increasing the likelihood that I would eventually find myself bingeing on these very same foods. Since my recovery from anorexia and bulimia, I’ve overcome my debilitating phobia of calories and fats. What I have found in my recovery is that balance is key.


When we find balance in our diets, we move away from a good food vs. bad food mentality. When we stop demonizing foods, banning and fearing them, we stop giving them the power to trigger and control us. Foods like chocolate cake, pizza, french fries and ice cream used to be off limits for me. Because I restricted it, ironically, it caused me to want them all the more. In fact, in my years of bulimia, I binged on all of the foods that I deemed ‘bad,’ only to purge repeatedly in order to try to erase what I’d done. Now, after years of hard work and introspection, I don’t fear these foods anymore. Because I don’t feel the need to say ‘NO’ – because I allow myself to enjoy them in moderation, I don’t feel the need to binge on them. By including ALL foods in my diet, including junk food, I now live a much healthier life.


This is not to say that what works for me will work for everyone. We are all different. The point is to find a structure that works for you. Find what ways you can positively alter your habits and personalize a lifestyle that was made just for you. Sometimes we need help with these things, be it via a therapist, an organization, a friend or a registered dietitian, so don’t be afraid to reach out. Find your own balance and you will find much more harmony, happiness and health.

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